Plug-in solar panels mounted on the balcony. Why it’s best to avoid them

More and more people are mounting solar panels on their balconies, and there are special ‘plug & play’ photovoltaic models on the market that anyone can install. But authorities in Sweden have recently warned people that these systems can be dangerous.

The “fever” for such panels started in Germany, spread to Belgium and is now spreading across Europe.

Sweden’s electrical systems safety authority (Elsäkerhetsverket) has taken action after several cases of plug-in solar panels catching fire or electrocuting people and animals. The accidents were caused by incorrect installation of solar panels or poor product quality. These kits are significantly cheaper than conventional panels (sometimes they come at half the price). In these circumstances the quality leaves much to be desired.

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Plug-in panels don’t use batteries to store the energy they produce, but plug into an outlet and, when it’s sunny, deliver electricity directly to your home’s grid, helping to reduce energy costs.

solar panels
Plug-in solar panel kit.

According to the Swedish authority, however, these panels can cause fires because most household grids have not been designed to handle the extra energy flow. Such a system should therefore have a dedicated circuit to reduce the risks. The problem is exacerbated in a building where more people use such kits.

Furthermore, often the cables connecting the panels to the sockets are too thin or of poor quality.

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At the same time, most plug-in kits offer basic functionality and lack safety features such as automatic shut-off.

Last but not least, 2-3 such panels will not generate significant reductions in electricity costs, so it is not worth taking all these risks.

Elsäkerhetsverket also draws attention to the fact that, not being professionally installed or approved by the utility companies, these solar panels could be illegal in many areas.

Sources: PV Magazine, SolarReviews

Also read: Want a wind turbine? The model, available including at eMAG, that you should steer clear of

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